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Jamie’s Christmas Pudding Strudel

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This is another fabulous recipe from Jamie Oliver.  It’s his Christmas Pudding Strudel, a lovely way to reinvent Christmas pudding leftovers and make something really yummy and quite special. I blogged this in January 2015, having made it for a Twelfth Night supper. It’s basically layers of filo pastry, filled with grated apple, pear or quince, crumbled Christmas pudding and a surprise chocolate centre.

I am reblogging the recipe to inspire everyone to get in the Christmas baking mood. But first make your Christmas pudding in order to have left overs to make strudel…

Ingredients

12 sheets filo pastry – if frozen, thaw.  I mention in my original post that perhaps you could use less filo, as 12 layers is a little too much

125 g butter, melted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

100 g demerara sugar + more for dusting when serving

4 ginger nut biscuits

400 g leftover Christmas pudding

3 apples or pears or 2 quinces or a mixture of the three

50 g good-quality chocolate, roughly chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.  Lay out 6 sheets of filo pastry on a clean tea towel, overlapping each by an inch or so, so they cover the tea towel.
The filo should cover the tea towel completely, with just a little overhang at one of the shorter ends.

Work quickly so your pastry doesn’t dry out and brush some melted butter all over it. Sprinkle over the cinnamon and 50 g of the sugar, then crumble over your ginger nut biscuits to add crunch. Carefully layer the rest of the pastry sheets on top and brush again with butter.

Use your hands to crumble the Christmas pudding into a bowl then grate in the fruit, everything except the cores. (Jamie says to use the cores  – I don’t think you need them.) You want to have about the same amount of grated fruit as you’ve got pudding. Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar, and mix it all together to break up the pudding a bit more. Sprinkle this all over the pastry so it’s roughly covered, leaving the overhang clear. Place the chocolate in a row on top of the Christmas pudding, down the short side nearest the overhang.

Fold the overhang over the chocolate and pinch it up, then lift up your tea towel, and use it to help you carefully roll up your strudel. Tuck the ends under to seal it and transfer to a large nonstick baking tray. Brush it all over with butter then sprinkle over a little more sugar. If it looks a bit rough, you could wrap an extra layer of filo round it before cooking to make it neater. Bake in the hot oven for about 40 minutes until crisp and golden. You may get a split once cooked – I agree with Jamie that that would add to the rustic effect!

Leave to cool, then use a serrated knife to cut the strudel into 5 cm slices.

Note: This recipe makes quite a large strudel –the photos here are of half the strudel.

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Bircher Muesli Trifles

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I get to work quite early and really enjoy having breakfast at work after I’ve done the first round of emails. I bring in all sorts of tasty treats – home baked sourdough, treacle soda bread, fruit rolls and scrolls, all with lots of my jams and marmalades, and different combinations of cereals, muesli and granola that I put together in the store cupboard for quick breakfasts.

My latest addiction is Bircher muesli, piled into jars with fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and anything else I fancy, plus a drizzle of honey. This becomes a Bircher Muesli Trifle. The basic muesli can be made on the weekend, enough for the week, and the individual jars or pots put together in the morning ready for transportation to work. Just add some milk to pull the whole thing together. An incredibly easy, tasty and very healthy breakfast!

Here is the basic recipe for the Bircher muesli, and my suggestions for what to layer your trifle with. The quantities will make 4 jars. Just multiply for bigger amounts.

Bircher Muesli
Ingredients
75g rolled oats
100g no fat yoghurt
1 apple or pear, grated

Trifle additions
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, passionfruit, quinces, apples, pears
Macadamias, pecans, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pistachios
Any seeds you like
Drizzle of honey – raw if you can get it

Method
Combine oats, yoghurt and grated apple or pear in a bowl. At this stage you can cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or you can use straight away.

When you are ready to make your jars, start layering. It really doesn’t matter what order you use. I start with fresh fruit first as it’s much easier to turn out the trifle into a bowl – if you go Bircher first, it tends to stick to the bottom of the jar!

Suggested order – fruit, Bircher, fruit, nuts, seeds, honey.

Pop the lid on tightly and that’s it! When you’re ready to eat, loosen with a splash or more of semi-skimmed milk. You can eat straight from the jar or tip into a bowl. Depending on how hungry I am, I sometimes add a banana or a chopped apple to the bowl. That makes a really substantial breakfast to get me through the day.

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Cinnamon Buttermilk Muffins

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I have just discovered the secret to great muffins – keeping the mixture in the fridge overnight or longer before baking. Matt Stone in his fabulous book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste” gives this tip in his recipe for Greenhouse Muffins, which I recently wrote up in a post, see here. This trick of leaving the mixture in the fridge definitely gives the muffins their gorgeous flavour.

My other discovery came about when I realised that I didn’t have any buttermilk. You just add lemon juice to milk to create the separation process. So easy!

My recipe uses ground cinnamon and cinnamon honey. I bought this honey made by Beelish Honey (http://www.beelish.com.au/) at a hand-made market in the Hunter Valley recently.  It has an unusual strong cinnamon flavour. You can just use ordinary honey instead and maybe add a little more cinnamon to the mixture.

Ingredients
1 Granny Smith apple or similar tart apple
150 gms self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
50 gms almond meal
50 gms rolled oats
75 gms dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50 gms melted butter
1 egg, beaten
225 mls buttermilk or semi-skimmed milk with the juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp cinnamon honey or ordinary honey
2 handfuls sour cherries or cranberries or raisins

Crumble topping
50g cold butter
70g plain flour
50g rolled oats
3 tsp honey

Method
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a 6 cup muffin tin with muffin papers or grease muffin pan.
Mix flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, almond meal, rolled oats, dark brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a large bowl.
Combine melted butter, egg, buttermilk, vanilla paste and cinnamon honey or ordinary honey in another bowl.
Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.
Fold in the chopped apple and cherries or other dried fruit. Ideally, if you can, leave the muffin mixture overnight for the flavours to develop. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge.                                                                                   Fill the 6 muffin cup muffin tin with the mixture.
For the crumble topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats, mix well, then mix in the honey. Cover the top of the muffins with the crumbly topping mixture.
Bake for about 25-35 minutes in the preheated oven. Check after 25 minutes with the skewer test, but they will probably need a further 5 -10 minutes. These are quite big muffins and need decent cooking time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Serve with lashing of butter and maybe a little honey!

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Christmas Spruce Cake for the Festive Season

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I first made this unusual cake in 2013. I had just hunted down the all important cake tin on eBay and I was super keen to try out the new acquisition! It’s a Nordic Ware mold called Holiday Tree Bundt Pan, that is shaped like a Christmas spruce tree.

I am re-blogging the recipe as the festive season approaches, and we begin to think about what to cook for all those up-coming celebrations.

The cake is fabulous because of the tin, but really, you can make it in an ordinary cake tin, or in any other fancy tin you have on hand. It’s a Nigella recipe for a rich butter cake, which can be spiced up with anything you like, but Christmas flavours of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are a wonderful way to go.

The recipe is from Nigella Christmas, a cook book full of exciting Christmas treats. It’s also on Nigella’s website: http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/spruced-up-vanilla-cake

But beware – if you do happen to be using this gorgeous spruce mold, you must grease the mold really carefully as the cake is very tricky to remove from the tin. I have experienced the cake sticking and coming out in bits. But when the cake comes out intact, it’s delightful, and can be zhushed with icing, chocolate or glace fruit.

Ingredients
225 gms soft butter (plus more for greasing)
300 gms caster sugar
6 large eggs
350 gms plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250 gms plain fat-free yoghurt
4 tsps vanilla extract and/or
1 tsp each cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
2 tbls icing sugar

Method
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced or 170 degrees C non fan forced and put a baking sheet in at the same time.
Butter or oil the Nordic ware spruce tree mould very thoroughly. Alternatively, you could use a large 2.5 litre capacity tin.
Put all the ingredients except the icing sugar into a food processor and blitz together. Pour and spoon the mixture into the greased tin and spread evenly.
Place the tin on the preheated baking sheet in the oven and cook for 45–60 minutes until well risen and golden.
After 45 minutes, insert a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. Rest the cake out of the oven for 15 minutes.
Gently pull away the edges of the cake from the tin with your fingers, then turn out the cake.
Once cool, dust with the icing sugar pushed through a small sieve, or decorate in whatever way inspires you.

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Rocky Road for Adults!

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Everyone loves rocky road. Super sweet, with chocolate, peanuts, marshmallow and maybe cherries or jelly pieces, it’s a nice mix of taste and textures.

It’s pretty easy to make, and I often fling a few ingredients together to make rocky road for friends or family.

This is the version that I make that’s “Adults Only”! It’s got lots of stuff in it that adults will like – dark chocolate and ginger for instance. But it’s still got good old marshmallow. You can’t have rocky road without marshmallow.

So here’s the recipe – or rather, the procedure, since there’ s no cooking involved, and quantities are really a matter of personal preference.

Ingredients

200g good quality dark chocolate

a handful of nuts –  macadamias, hazelnuts and almonds are really good

several pieces of crystallized ginger

a handful of glace cherries and/or any other glace fruit (pineapple and apricot are nice)

several pink and white marshmallows

and anything else you think might go well in the rocky road

50g white chocolate for decorating

Method

Line a rectangular or square baking tin with baking paper. Roughly chop the larger pieces of  glace fruit. It really doesn’t matter that much what size the pieces are, as the rocky road eventually gets broken up.  Scatter the pieces any old how over the baking paper.

Carefully melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water on the stove, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Once the chocolate has melted, pour it into the baking tin, so that it covers the “rubble” of ingredients that will make the rocky road.

Leave to set for a few hours, or stick in the fridge for a faster set or if it’s a hot day.

You can decorate the rocky road if you like. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water as you did for the dark chocolate. Drizzle over the set chocolate slab, using a skewer or the end of a knife. When the white chocolate is quite set, break up the large chocolate slab into rough pieces or cut with a knife into even or rough pieces. Great to serve with coffee or wrap up as gifts at Christmas.

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Intense Strawberry Flavour

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These beautiful cupcakes are truly strawberry marvels. They have an intense strawberry flavour in both the cakes themselves and in the luscious strawberry icing. I used my usual go-to recipe for the cupcake mixture, based on Nigella‘s cupcake recipe. Adding some strawberry puree which I cooked down to a beautiful paste as well as a handful of chopped fresh berries, gives you the strawberry cake batter. A traditional buttercream icing with more reduced strawberry puree, and some optional strawberry fondant creme make these cupcakes really delicious!

Ingredients

Cupcakes

125g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

2 tbls reduced strawberry puree*

Handful of chopped fresh strawberries (about 6 will probably be enough)

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

50g butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

2 tbls reduced strawberry puree*

1 tbls strawberry fondant creme (optional)

Method

Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cup cake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the milk, reduced strawberry puree and chopped strawberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing to make a soft, dropping consistency.

Carefully fold in the reduced strawberry puree and chopped strawberries.

Spoon mixture into the cases, filling the cases equally.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cup cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Take the cup cakes in their cases out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Ice with the strawberry buttercream icing.

Strawberry Buttercream Icing

In a bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then add the reduced strawberry puree and the strawberry fondant creme (if using) and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

*To make reduced strawberry puree

To make the total amount of reduced strawberry puree needed for both the cakes and icing, puree about 20 strawberries in a food processor or a blender. You will get about 1/2 cup, or 2/3 cup of puree. Put the puree in a saucepan  and heat the puree over low to medium heat.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by about 2/3 to 4 tbls –  about 10 minutes or so.

These quantities and instructions are rather loose – you need enough strawberries to make a decent amount of puree, then cook them down for long enough to give enough reduced puree for both the cakes and icing. It’s important to cook the puree so that it’s thick, particularly for the icing, so that the icing isn’t too runny.

Also, chill the puree before adding it to the cakes or icing.

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Eating out in Adelaide – From Freakshakes to Fine Dining

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Recently I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Adelaide, South Australia. I was attending a conference over three days, a perfect amount of time to sample some of the delights of Adelaide food. The trip fulfilled its promise: a really good conference with some great papers presented, and the opportunity to indulge in some lovely food experiences.

So what is the significance of the title of this post? Well there was fine dining, and then there was THE FREAKSHAKE. As a lover of all things sweet and creamy, this writer, having discovered this truly weird drink/food, has been keen to try one. Freakshakes, sadly most probably an ephemeral food trend, are milkshakes with all sorts of edible goodies piled on top and lots of syrup and sauce flowing over the top of the glass jar.

Somehow they are quite hard to find in Sydney, so when researching dining in Adelaide, I googled freakshakes and discovered St Louis House of Fine Ice Cream and Dessert http://st-louis.com.au/. As you can see from the photo I was not disappointed!

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I had the Peanut Butter Brownie Shake Peanut Butter Nutella milkshake, topped with a warm chocolate brownie and chocolate coated wafer balls. Drizzled with pure melted milk chocolate. My partner in culinary crime and academic adventure, the quirky Ms R, had the Salted Caramel Waffle Shake Salted Caramel milkshake, topped with warm Belgian Waffle, dulce de leche and sweet ’n salty popcorn.

But the highlights of the stay were discovering some really good restaurants, from chic to adventurous, all within a walk or an Uber drive from our city hotel. And there were a couple of great breakfast cafes, one – Stumps Bar and Kitchen, that looked like its name, ie a bar  – but which produced an amazingly beautiful plate of ricotta hotcakes with blueberries, lemon curd and cream with edible flowers… the photo at the top of the post says it all!  Here is the link: http://stumpsbar.com.au/

Press* food and wine, where we had our first dinner, is aptly named as the restaurant is situated in the old printing works of the newspaper The Adelaide Advertiser. A huge industrial space which suits the down to earth yet inventive cooking style. The restaurant specializes in offal. That option was not for us – we stuck with some great vegetarian options. A salad of ricotta balls and radicchio was fresh and pungent and a truffled mushroom & taleggio pithivier with cauliflower purée was unusual and delicious. However the Bombe Alaska with a peanut brittle and banana ice cream frozen centre was amazing…and it came to the table alight! Here is the link to the restaurant: http://pressfoodandwine.com.au/

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Next, tucked in a laneway reminiscent of Melbourne’s well known city lanes, was Peel St. The dining space is casual, with an open kitchen and bar side dining. That’s where we sat, watching the kitchen action and the prep of the beautiful dishes. The food was great, some of the best dishes we ate in Adelaide. There were two standouts.  Banana blossom chicken, chilli jam and coconut salad with peanuts and crispy shallot was an Asian inspired dish of deliciousness, with contrasting textures and intricate flavours. My photo, unfortunately, is not included as the low lighting didn’t do the dish justice. Dessert, which I did photograph, was a peanut parfait with chocolate mousse, brulee toffee banana and meringue cigars. It tasted as good as it looks! This is the Peel St link: http://www.peelst.com.au/.

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On the last night we visited Africola, a very cool eaterie with the focus on African food. As their website says “compact, simple restaurant with a western soundtrack, for African-inspired vegetables, grilled and smoked meats, flatbreads, pickles and natural wine.” We sat at the bar here too, literally a metre or so from the cooking and prep stations. We watched them cooking our flatbreads on the flame grill, which came to us with some smoky dips. A half cauliflower – cooked on the grill – came seasoned and dressed. A nice way to eat a sometimes predictable vegetable. This is the link: http://www.africola.com.au/

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Another tasty breakfast was Cafe Troppo, where sustainability, community and environment are key themes. Ms R had a traditional breakfast of seasoned scrambled eggs and gourmet bacon on local, hand-made sourdough. I was keen to try the stone-milled whole grain flour waffles, pressed to order, with Paris Creek whipped cream, bacon and thyme honey. Delicious waffles, but I’m not convinced about sweetened whipped cream with bacon… Link here: http://cafetroppoadelaide.com/

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Another nice foodie experience to mention in passing – the fabulous Adelaide Central Market – where one particular patesserie counter caught my eye with their salted caramel doughnuts. Ms R and I had to share one, of course!

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And on the third and last day of our conference, our hosts took us on a cultural tour to the Adelaide Hills, where we had lunch at Deviation Road Winery, which specializes in paellas cooked in enormous paella pans shown in the photo. Here is the link: http://www.deviationroad.com/

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My short sojurn in Adelaide was rewarded with some memorable dining experiences. It’s clearly a city with an exciting and varied food scene, relaxed vibe, and very friendly and knowledgeable service. Go visit!

 

 

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